Tautology appears as a gift-wrapped paper around families in leisure, creating illusions of sameness; like a tree, apple bundled into cardboard boxes. Sobremesa is when conflicts trickle into coffee mugs, giving sheen of softness. It trod in shadows of evening mirth, waiting to fade away under the glow of the morning sun. It is the time when conflicts get a seat on the table and perhaps occupies the centre table. Yet, its flow smoothens into the rim of coffee mugs and mellows into the dermis of the palms. Inside placid walls of bland houses, dim lights shine and voices hush into discussions. They whisper a quarrel, lather arguments with the piping smell of scones and cookies. Nothing comes strong, because Sobremesa is filled with the aroma of homemade snacks and soothing noise of chewing.
Tautology remains despite the differences that breed between families over the years as they branch out or between old lovers on shiny restaurant tables. But during Sobremesa the greediness to munch on something, the beauty of hunger pangs at the sight of savoury knick- knacks solidifies sameness. It reminds us that humans have this inescapably beautiful nature when deliciousness can silence our tumbling selves. Perhaps it would if only momentarily, makes us feel we may inhabit a small slice in the universe, a dot in the galaxy; yet we are significant. Our brief moments are punctuated by mellifluous laughter of a child at the sight of chocolates or lights from a local bakery during a snow storm.
Sobremesa is a space where we unmask, under the compassion of friends, family and close ones, and we whisper secrets. Conflicts get resolved in a wisp of banter or get entangled in the fading glory of the day. Sobremesa is a panacea of restlessness, loneliness and the solipsistic rhythm. It is a place where small talk becomes art, and cloaks of intellect can safely hide without judgement. In a world of 'big talks', politically correct chutzpah and stiffness of public conduct, Sobremesa is a space of heavy giggles, light delicacies, approved silliness.
Some have made it an art of leisure or 'dolce far niente', Sobremesa is its unpretentious twin. For some of us, Sobremesa can exist in the corner of time or space when we can be comfortable with our vulnerable selves and even, flaunt it.
Abhinita Mohanty is a research scholar in the department of humanities and social sciences, IIT Madras, India. Some of her works are published in Punch Magazine, India, New Asian Writing, Outlook Magazine's Website, Feminism in India, Green Ink poetry, Ponder Savant, Sheepshead Review (forthcoming) and a few others. She tweets at: twitter.com/AbhinitaMohanty